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Church Sound: The Nature Of Soundcheck And Building A Mix

Making the most of a time of mutual benefit for the tech crew, musicians and singers...

Necessary Components
But from my perspective, the soundcheck is mine. It’s my time to use as needed. It’s the period when my needs to get the FOH mix together have to come first, and I have to be in control of how we use that time.

That may sound selfish, but it’s a necessary component if we’re going to achieve technical excellence together. 

Once we enter the rehearsal time then the playing field levels out and the needs of the tech crew and the players/vocalists are equal and should be worked out together. 

Another approach voiced by several seasoned sound mixers is philosophically the opposite of my approach. They prefer to keep all of the instruments and vocals up in the mix at all times so that any EQ choices or level changes can constantly be evaluated as a whole rather than individually. That’s a tremendously valid point, and I would simply say go with what works for you. 

I can easily see the players and singers jumping to the defense of this second approach since it supports their desire for more consistency during the soundcheck. However, the reality is that neither approach will necessarily deliver a better end result than the other.

On top of that, those on stage aren’t the ones mixing, and they aren’t the ones who will catch the heat if things don’t sound great, so each individual sound mixer has to use the approach of building a mix that works best for them. 

I will say that I’ve found myself in recent days virtually forced by exceedingly short soundcheck times to keep the full mix up and learn how to achieve the results I’m looking for quickly and accurately without having the luxury of isolating individual parts, at least not to the degree that I’m used to doing.

Enjoy The Process
The soundcheck is a handshake, if you will, between the tech crew and the worship team. The end result should be one of joyful abandon during a worship service.

Yes, it’s O.K. for the tech crew to enjoy the worship service as much as the worship team. I can’t exactly throw my head back, close my eyes and worship God like the vocalists might be able to do. If I do, I’ll likely miss a cue or create a problem. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun and enjoy the process. 

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